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When Dance Marathons Made Sleep Deprivation a Sport

Dance Marathon
(NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)


In the ’20s and ’30s, a dance revolution swept the nation—one not unlike reality shows So You Think You Can Dance or Dancing With the Stars, but with a far more tiring (if not sometimes deadly) bent. The “dance marathon,” as it was known, saw couples dance sometimes for as long as days (and even months) at a time. Here’s Jake Rossen for Van Winkle’s:

“By the time the weight of the Great Depression rolled in, the real appeal was in seeing which of them could withstand exhaustion, hallucinations, fistfights and unscrupulous promoters long enough to be crowned the ‘winner.'”

To read the full story, click here. For more on dance marathons, watch the revealing video below.